Reaction: Sounders handle Sporting KC 1-0, move on to semi-finals
They did it! The Seattle Sounders who were left for dead in July has risen from the ashes and took down a solid Sporting KC squad. An 88th minute header by Nelson Valdez– off a pinpoint cross from Joevin Jones — shaded a hard-fought, evenly-split, ill-tempered playoff match, sending CenturyLink into scenes of frenzy.
It had been almost exactly a year since the Paraguayan forward last scored a goal in MLS play – a year almost to the day, when his goal helped the Sounders past the Galaxy in this same round of the last postseason on Oct. 28, 2015. And with the absence of Clint Dempsey the Sounders needed someone to step up and Nelson finally showed why the Sounders made him a designated player.
SSU Man of the Match
Had Sporting won the game, we would have to give the award to Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber who was everywhere constantly making plays. But it was the Sounders Goalie Stefan Frei who spurned attack after attack until the Sounder offence could finally get their act together to score the game winner.
When the season at the ugliest threatened to tear this team apart, Frei has always been there as a rock solid influence. And that played out tonight, Frei was there to turn back a vicious attack and did so beautifully.
Next Side Up
The Sounders take on the best team in the MLS, FC Dallas. FC Dallas won the season series between the two clubs in 2016 with two wins at home: 2-0 on May 14 and a come-from-behind 2-1 win on Oct. 16. The Sounders won the only meeting between the two teams in Seattle on July 13.
This will mark the third straight year the Sounders and FC Dallas will meet in the postseason, with the two teams splitting the results in 2014 and 2015. The Sounders topped FCD in two-game series two years ago before Dallas avenged that loss last year via a dramatic penalty kick shootout in Frisco.
See you Sunday at 6:30 at Centurylink for the beginning of the home-home clash!